University of Manitoba Design Competition 2023

Written by Jason Plett Published on July 7th, 2023

Each year for over a decade, Barkman challenges the Landscape Architecture students at the University of Manitoba in a design competition. This competition is unique in that it promotes collaboration between the precast concrete manufacturing industry, educators, and students. Students are tasked to develop original designs and new ideas that challenge the conventions of concrete from a specific design prompt. The winners of the competition received a cash award.

This year, students were challenged to design a new segmental retaining wall product that expands the creative and technical options available to both designers and contractors. The new wall ideas needed to be beautiful to look at, flexible to implement and easy to integrate with other existing wall options. The students were challenged further by requiring them to design a product that could be made using Barkman’s drycast processes. 

In total, 9 teams of students entered the competition, and came up with a wide variety of designs that sought to fulfill the design brief. The winning team came up with the wall idea they called “Ribstone.” The design concept modifies Barkman’s existing Keystone wall system with a smooth, modern “face” that replaces the current Hewnstone look with a raised ridge or “rib” that runs vertically along the block. The team provided 3 faces for their new product concept, each with the rib, in a different orientation: far left, center, and far right. The design is simple yet versatile, allowing a contractor to create multiple wall aesthetics by simply using the different blocks and adjusting the placement pattern.  

Ribstone was chosen as the winner of the competition for its great design, high level of functionality and real-world potential. Ribstone marries a simple concept, great visual interest and a feasible design for production together in a unique and interesting new product idea. Its integration with Barkman’s existing product lines also makes it an easily marketable product. Ribstone stood above the competition with its simple, versatile and easily implemented product idea. 

While Ribstone was the overall winner of the challenge, many other notable designs were also entered. The students did not hold back their creativity and designed some first-class potential product lines. Every year, Barkman looks forward to this event and is encouraged by the ingenuity and creativity that the University of Manitoba’s design students bring. 

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